THE Blue Knights and Brian Kennedy were today ready to lodge a new joint offer with Rangers administrators that they hope can save the club from liquidation.
Their move came as London-based firm Ticketus confirmed today that they had withdrawn from a consortium with the Blue Knights after weeks of financial wrangling.
However, that decision, from the firm who own the rights to around £27 million of the club's season ticket revenue over the next three years after a deal they brokered last May with shamed owner Craig Whyte, will not affect the Blue Knights' bid for the club. They have secured the backing of Edinburgh-born multi-millionaire Mr Kennedy, who had previously been going it alone to try and rescue Rangers.
He met members of the Paul Murray-led Blue Knights' consortium during five hours of discussions yesterday, at which the framework of an equal partnership agreement was agreed.
Mr Kennedy, whose personal wealth has been estimated at up to £250m, owns Sale Sharks rugby union club, in Greater Manchester.
He and the Rangers-supporting businessmen who comprise the Blue Knights consortium, including car tycoon Douglas Park, will now combine elements of their financial offers in an attempt to rescue the crisis-hit Ibrox club.
It remains to be seen how Ticketus will pursue the money they are owed. Sources say they will remain as an unsecured creditor when a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA ) is presented by the administrators, Duff and Phelps, but are likely to then pursue Whyte legally to recoup their losses.
A statement confirmed: "Ticketus today confirms that it has withdrawn from the Blue Knights Consortium.
"Consequently Ticketus is no longer able to play a role in the consortium's bid The Rangers Football Club PLC.
"Ticketus first and foremost has a duty to its investors to protect the investment that it currently has in the Club.
"Regrettably, over the course of this week, it became impossible to reconcile these interests with the proposals put forward by the Blue Knights as the terms of a deal became clearer.
"There have been a number of challenging issues that have emerged over the course of the last month, including delays to the administration process, the SPL's ruling and the recent news from the SFA, all of which have affected the value of the Club and added complexity to the bidding process.
"After much hard work from all parties, we are deeply disappointed that we are unable to secure an agreement with the Blue Knights.
"We do not wish to attach any blame to the failure of these talks as, while there have been frustrations on all sides, we believe all parties have been acting in good faith to agree terms.
"Paul Murray and the Blue Knights have the interests of the Club at heart and we wish them well as they continue to try to secure the best outcome for the Club and its fans.
"We hope that a swift resolution can be found for the Club that will enable it to continue to play a leading role in Scottish football."
US businessman Bill Miller continues to monitor events around Ibrox and has drafted an £11.2m bid, which involves the creation of a "newco" club.
Monday was supposed to have been the deadline for naming a preferred bidder .
However, Duff & Phelps had to extend that after the SFA Judicial Panel's punishment for rule-breaking by Rangers.
The panel fined the club £160,000 and banned it from signing any player older than 18 for a year – and that again delayed any acceptable offers from being tabled.